Journey to Svalbard

I think for many readers, when they hear Svalbard, they think of Philip Pullman’s seminal His Dark Materials trilogy. In the first book, the heroine Lyra Belacqua journeys to the arctic to rescue her friend and the other children that have been stolen by the gobblers. Pullman’s fictional version of Svalbard is particularly notable as this is where the panserbjørne kingdom is located.

In our real world version of Svalbard, there are no panserbjørne, but there are polar bears of the non-armoured variety, and thus humans must stay within city limits unless they are armed. Despite having never seen a polar bear, this makes the stark, alien landscape of Longyearbyen feel more homey to me, as curious bears can regularly be found trotting down northern ontario streets as well, particularly on garbage day.

Today I leave on an arctic sailing expedition where I will be gathering assets and beginning the creation of two projects: one, an augmented reality app that depicts the intimate, digitally-mediated relationship between the reader and a traveller in a near future where technology is constantly disrupted by climate change. This project investigates some of the burgeoning grammars of AR, particularly those that use temporality and communication disruption for emotional impact. The second project is a lyrical virtual reality project exploring elemental winter and the multimodal elements used to depict and define ‘cold’.

I am so pleased to have been selected for this residency, and to be travelling with a phenomenal group of artists, researchers, arctic guides and sailors. I will be incommunicado for the next few weeks, but will return to civilization in late October with steady sea legs and hard drives full of digital materials.


Digital Conversations at the British Library

On July 2018, I had the honour of speaking about The VESSEL Project at the New Media Writing Prize 10th Anniversary talk at The British Library in London. I was privileged to share the stage with new media writing luminaries Andy Campbell (Dreaming Methods), inaugural NMWP winner Christine Wilks, and 2018 NMWP winner Amira Hanafi.

Andy gave us an historical overview of the prize and a glimpse into his ground-breaking work in VR narratives, while Christine introduced the audience her award-winning flash Underbelly and talked about how her practice has changed since. Amira unpacked the creative process behind her powerful bi-lingual piece of e-lit: A Dictionary of the Revolution. Finally, I spoke about The VESSEL Project and the ways augmented reality and new media writing can help community renewal by introducing geographic counter-stories to combat toxic community narratives.

Organiser Dr. Jim Pope chaired the rountable and if:book UK director Dr. Chris Meade spoke about the Dot Award and joined us to discuss the history and future of digital and new media writing.

Thank you to Stella Wisdom and the British Library for organising the event and Bournemouth University and If:Book for ten years of celebration and support for new media storytelling!

To read more about the event, visit the NMWP coverage at the NMWP website or check out their twitter.

Website Re-Launch

I am happy to announce the re-launch of my website. I allowed my last website to languish without updates for rather a long time. I will try to be better about keeping this one up to date!

This website uses the squarespace template Avenue. The splash image is a graphic I designed several years ago for a now defunct flash website. It collects symbols from a variety of communication systems, including the quadrivium, alchemy, as well as more modern icons and glyphs.

Save those from my own library and the event images, all photographs have been taken from Unsplash. The title header / logo employs the font walker by Margo + Co.